Today's Mailbox includes Topics: Listening to Radio Prague in some Czech cities on FM. "73" and some other short wave radio terminology. Fast food restaurants in Prague. The Remoska cooker. Quotes from: Miko Andienu, Danny Jameson, Louis Smith, Michael Stevenson, Helen Brock, J.Wood
Welcome, once more to Mailbox, the weekly program in which we answer and quote from listeners' letters.
And we'll start off with some questions we've been receiving lately from listeners who have noticed that every once in a while we quote from letters sent from Prague. How come, some of them ask, for example Miko Andienu, who writes from Tokyo, Japan:
"I know Radio Prague as a short wave international radio station. How come it can be heard in Prague, too?"
The answer is, that our programs, are also transmitted on 92.6 and 100.7 FM, at 23 hours local time. But these are not our whole programs, only 15 minute ones with a stress on news and a feature program every day.
We can also be heard, not only in English, but also in Russian, German, French and Spanish on medium wave in the Czech Republic, but also in neighbouring countries on the Czech Radio 6 - Radio Free Europe frequencies, which you can find on our web-site. Those programs are on the air from 12 to 14 hours local time, and here listeners in the Czech Republic can hear our full English language program half past one pm.
These programs are aimed at foreigners living here, who do not speak Czech well enough to keep track of the local news. And we have had quite a lot of response from them, proving that it is a worth while aspect of our work.
Czechs learning English appreciate the service, too, and we have a number of secondary school English teachers who have been asking for the written version of those programs so they can follow them, and listen to them in class.
By the way, our programs are re-broadcast on FM in parts of the United States, too, where, courtesy of WRN you can hear some of Radio Prague's broadcasts overnight on numerous NPR affiliated stations in the United States. But more about that on Radio Prague's web-site: www.radio.cz/english.
But still, we are, predominantly a short wave radio station, and short wave fans form the bulk of our listeners. Many of them are real short wave fans, which brings me to a question from Danny Jameson of Runcorn, Cheshire, England:
"Most short wave listeners are familiar with the radio term 73. Are there any other radio terms, that you know of, that are not of such common knowledge?"
Now, that, obviously, is a question for our short wave expert, Olda Cip. But, in view of what we've been saying, I'm not so sure all our listeners do know what 73 means. So, Olda, could you start by explaining?
73 translated into ordinary, common language, means "Best wishes and regards". It ha been borrowed from the vocabulary of amateur radio operators and Morse Code operators and it has been chosen because these two numerals in Morse Code have the opposite sound. That means, in Morse Code, da-da-di-di-di, di-di-di-da-da.
Which sounds nice. Has it been used for many years?
I don't know exactly the year when it was coined, but probably it can be traced to when the Morse Code was introduced into telegraphy, first into the wired telegraphy, then it was used also in wireless telegraphy.
It's interesting that it has stayed on even though the Morse code is no longer used.
Well, Radio amateurs still use it in some limited scope, but you are probably right. There are other such similar usages, for example the whole list of so called Q-codes.
Which brings us to the QSL card our listeners know.
Exactly. QSL means "I confirm reception, or I confirm contact with your station, or reception with your station, and if it's marked with a question mark, it means "Can you confirm reception?". Then there is QTR, which means exact time, QTH, which means location of the transmitter or receiver, and so forth.
Thank you, Olda Cip. And now, away from short wave and on to matters of very, very general interest. Food, for example. Now, what could be of more general interest than food?
And we have any number of listeners' letters to prove that. Louis Smith from Thurmont, MD, USA asks
"Is your country flooded with American fast food restaurants?"
I'm afraid the answer is "Yes". That's one aspect of life in the Western World that we have been catching up with very fast.
Too fast as far as I'm concerned and many Czechs share that feeling with me.
Not only Czechs, foreigners, too. In the beginning, after the borders had been opened and the first tourists came here with a certain feeling of apprehension, the site of a McDonald's tempted to set their fears at ease and that, with the great interest in the novelty among Czechs started McDonalds off on a flying start. The first 3 stores were opened in 1992, last year there were 62 of them throughout the country. And the number of customers has increased tenfold.
And, of course, there are other American fast food restaurants, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken, and others, too, and their doing just as well. With the result that some foreign visitors now resent them, because if they come to a foreign country, they want to get the local food, not something they can get anywhere. And getting typical Czech food in a Prague restaurant nowadays is getting harder and harder. I had a friend from Philadelphia visiting a couple of weeks ago and we just couldn't find a decent restaurant that served the typical Czech staple meal - roast pork, sauerkraut and dumplings, or svickova - that's beef in a white sauce, also with dumplings, of course. The place is full of restaurants that serve the kind of food you can get anywhere else.
I'd say the countryside, the smaller towns are better in that resect. But generally speaking, there is a growing trend to serve, and eat more fruit and serve more varied kinds of vegetables. Even though I do know from my own experience that if you're a vegetarian, eating out isn't all that simple.
But good, healthy food is a problem faced by people all over the world, including Australia, as Michael Stevenson writes from Port Macquarie, in NSW. Commenting on Radio Prague's news item regarding the Czech ban of imports on poultry from some countries in connection with the presence of beef proteins in the chicken.
"Has the world gone mad? It is little wonder why people are becoming sicker with this sort of thing happening. This is why mad cows disease developed, feeding cows food and proteins they are not supposed to eat, all for the sake of increased production. We just do not know what we are eating any more. I remember the food we used to eat and how it tasted, not like what we buy now. I grow my own tomatoes, I fertilize with natural manure only and let them vine ripen. Wow, do they taste good!"
I must say that feeling is shared by most Czechs. You'll hardly find a garden here where people do not grow their own fruit and vegetables according to traditional standards. It's taken for granted. I remember visiting England some years ago with somebody, who had never been there before. He kept looking around the houses, at the beautiful lawns with a few hedges and flowers, and couldn't get over the fact that there are no fruit and vegetable strips. All that wasted soil, he kept saying. So, that's one very important aspect of Czech food habits
And, of course, every country house has its chickens and rabbits, and many of them still have pigs, at least one of them raised for the winter pork feast. But. so much, for specific Czech cooking ingredients.
As for their processing, we have some specific features there, too. I'm thinking of the Remoska cooker, which is a Czech invention. You spoke about it in one of your programs some time ago, Dita and the feature had quite a lot of response. Michael Stevenson, from whose letter we quoted just a little while ago writes
"I was very interested in the program featuring the Czech cooking appliance called the Remoska, a 50 year old product that has been re-discovered and is being exported to England, that is really great. What a wonderful product it seems to be. I would like one and I hope they start to export to Australia soon."
Well, I don't know about exports to Australia, but they are on the English market, as I mentioned in that program, a fact confirmed by Helen Brock from Oxford, England.
"An English mail order firm sent me a catalogue of kitchen goods. My eye lit on a Czech product. It was the Remoska cooker. Anything Czech grabs me and I needed to think of a wedding present for my godson. Soon after that you broadcast an item about the Remoska and interviewed a lady who was responsible for selling it in Britain. It seemed to be the perfect gift for my godson and his bride. Indeed they are delighted with it."
So, there you are, yet another successful Czech contribution to the world of eating. But, still, the main contribution, many will say is Czech beer. As J.Wood from York, England puts it in his e-mail
"Hey, they can't brew Czech beer anywhere outside the Czech Republic. Long live REAL Czech beer!"
So, until next week, "Cheers"! from Dita Asiedu
And Olga Szantova